Anthony Gonzalez is running for Congress, and some of his friends from the NFL are helping.(Kiichiro Sato, Associated Press)

Former Buckeye star could shake up race for Congress in Ohio

Anthony Gonzalez, a former football standout for Ohio State University and the Indianapolis Colts, has raised more money than any other candidate — incumbent or otherwise — in his bid for Congress.

Gonzalez is running for the northeast Ohio seat being vacated by Rep. Jim Renacci, R-Wadsworth, who is running for governor.

Gonzalez, 33, joins State Rep. Tom Patton, R-Strongsville, and State Rep. Christina Hagan, R-Marlboro Twp., in a race that may prove expensive to fill.

RELATED: Competition lacking in Ohio congressional races Gonzalez raised $626,774 last quarter — including $526,774 in contributions. Among those contributing: Peyton Manning ($5,400), Gonzalez’s fellow Buckeye star A.J. Hawk ($1,000), former teammates Austin Collie from the Colts ($1,500)and LeCharles Bentley ($1,000) from the Buckeyes and Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslem ($2,700 from him and $2,700 from his wife Dee).

Gonzalez also drew contributions from outside the sports world, including from various members of the Boich family, which runs coal companies and are active donors to Republican candidates.

Meanwhile, Patton raised $278,351 last quarter while Hagan pulled in $34,615. On the Democratic side, Aaron Godfrey raised $1,953.

RELATED: Fight over sex trafficking begins in Congress The filings from the Federal Election Commission provide an early glimpse at which congressional races — at least from a money standpoint — will be competitive next year.

By far the most expensive race is for the U.S. Senate. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, is seeking a third term and leads all candidates in fundraising with $2.6 million raised in the quarter and $8.3 million in the bank.

Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, who hopes to reverse the outcome of his 2012 losing contest against Brown, raised a little more than $1 million during the quarter and has about $4.1 million in the bank.

Republican Mike Gibbons will report bringing in $421,000 last quarter, according to a spokesman, bringing his total amount to $1.1 million since he entered the race at the end of May. Another Republican, Don Elijah Eckart, a Galloway theologian, contributed $250 of his own money last quarter, according to the filings.

RELATED: John Kasich wants Congress to work together on health care The other races for Congress show a huge money gap between incumbents and challengers.

In southwest Ohio, Citizens for Turner — the campaign committee for Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton — reported raising $142,401 between July 1 and Sept. 30. The committee has raised $444,437 to date this year.

No other candidate reported raising or spending $5,000 in that district during the quarter though Democrat Robert Klepinger has taken out petitions for the 10th congressional district, which includes all or parts of Montgomery, Greene and Fayette counties. Turner has $491,641 in the bank for his campaign.

In the adjacent 8th Congressional District, Rep. Warren Davidson, R-Troy, raised $86,183 last quarter and has $171,602 in the bank. Republican Edward Meer has also pulled petitions for the district but has yet to file a campaign finance report.

Davidson is a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, which was founded by Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Urbana. Jordan has $1.39 million in the bank for his re-election bid after raising $115,586 in the quarter. Democrats Andrew Mackey and Janet Garrett also filed campaign finance reports; they raised $229 and $6,646 to date, respectively.

RELATED: Brown has twice what Mandel has for Senate run In the Cincinnati area, Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Cincinnati, raised $125,270 during the quarter and has $1.15 million in the bank. He faces Democrat Laura Ann Weaver, who reported raising $9,810 in the quarter, and has $8,233 in the bank.

All told, Ohio incumbent House members raised $2.75 million this quarter — more than three times the amount raised by their challengers.

And if that isn’t advantage enough, those running for re-election to Congress have $19 million in the bank, including cash from prior election cycles.

Challengers, meanwhile, reported having less than $1 million on hand for their races.